Past fashion show winner shares details about his designs this year
Zach Stoner is relieved to step back from his sewing machine; after a year of hard work the clothing collection he designed for this year's Threads Fashion Show is complete.
Threads Fashion Show is completely student-run by models, designers and event planners who also helped fundraise to put on the show. Students in the Fashion Merchandising and Design program are dedicated to the production of the event that will take place on Saturday, April 23.
This will be the Portage junior's third and final year participating in the show, because he plans to graduate in the fall. Last year, Stoner was a producer for Threads and walked away with "Best in Show" for a menswear collection he described as "street-style clubbing."
Stoner shared his insight on studying fashion merchandising and design, creating clothing collections for Threads and his style inspirations with Central Michigan Life.
When did you first get interested in designing clothing?
STONER: In high school — sophomore or junior year when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to dedicate my life to — I decided I wanted to do something creative and fun I (would love to wake) up and do every day instead of dreading it.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
I think I probably use social media the most. I follow random people on Instagram and see what they wear, what their lifestyle is and how I want to adapt to that lifestyle or how I would feel in that lifestyle. I also think of how things make me feel. Most of the time I design black (garments) because when I wear black I feel so powerful.
A lot of times thinking of how you would feel when you’re wearing the garment is a good thing I look to when I design.
How is the collection you designed this year different from last?
Last year my designs were more "clubbing" and this year is a little more classy. I keep telling people I'm doing classy mesh (fabric) — last year it was all mesh. I still have mesh but it's used subtly and it's not as in your face.
What's your process for coming up with design concepts for clothing collections?
I don’t have a set process. Each collection and each design is different, but this year I found an artist named Travis Chanter. He’s a nude body painter. I took his idea of the male form and the body art that contours to the specific model. I took that and translated it to clothing.
Each look (in my collection) shows off a different part of the body. Then I went back and did a photo shoot that was similar to Chanter's that shows how I got from inspiration to the collection.
Instead of fully body-painting the models, I (painted) just the part that the garment was going to show off.
The photo shoot will hopefully be in the mounted exhibition (at Threads Fashion Show).
How long have you been working on your collection this year?
Ideation-wise, I feel like it would be since the beginning of this school year but actually sewing and getting everything prepared, this semester.
Because we have to make four looks over a semester, we have had to put so many hours outside of class into each look.
What is the difference in your experience of being a producer for the show and now just being a designer?
I just like being able to focus on design. I don’t want to necessarily go into a career of producing fashion shows, so being able to focus on the concept and the campaign that goes along with my project — it’s a lot better.
It was great (being a producer) last year, but it's nice to settle down and refocus.
What is it like the day of the fashion show when you're getting ready?
We start off the day before the show. We meet at around 8 a.m. and do a day of run-throughs and a day of choreography and day of everything. The day before (Threads) is a long day, then the same process happens the day of the show. We meet really early, go through the show a million times and work out any kinks.
Then everybody starts getting ready with makeup and hair and getting ready for the show. The excitement starts to build more and more.
Finally the show starts and awards come and you're like "Wow, it's already done."
(Threads) is a crazy-fast process. It's funny to think of the time that goes in compared to the amount of time the the stuff is actually shown. But it’s worth it.
How would you describe your signature style when it comes to fashion?
I really like street style. I don’t always design for it, but that is a big influence in what I do and create.
Street style is very urban, typically very dark, using blacks grays. It can be casual or dressed up, but for the most part it's kind of a casual fun thing.
I like the people who try to push boundaries and make new options for guys for fashion. I try to follow those fashion innovators.
Is there a reason you're drawn to designing menswear?
When I started designing for this collection, my original thought process was that many designers in the past have said they have been so inspired by the female body and the curves of it and that’s how they design. They create things that are curvy and flow with the female body. I wanted to take that concept and tailor it to males.
I was able to see the translation from the typical design for a woman's body. I translated that and tailored it to a males body — showing that off and having it be very structured and geometric.
Do you have any goals for your career after you graduate?
I really want to go to New York. I would love to work for a high end menswear company.
I specifically want to target menswear, so I would hope to get hired by a company like that.